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As It Was: Land Developer Proposes Giving Away 20-Acre Tracts

An entrepreneur who owned large tracts of land in Curry County, Ore., Robert D. Hume, announced a land giveaway in March 1908.
Hume advertised in the Wedderburn Radium that he would distribute 20 acres each to 20 families.

His motives were to obtain a return from idle land and to dispose of it in a manner that continued to generate profit through his other enterprises.

Hume said each family would have 15 years to clear and cultivate the land and only have to pay property taxes and rent of $2 an acre.  As added incentive, Hume would provide a cow, pig, and a dozen chickens.  The families would have free use of his sawmill and standing timber to make their own housing and fencing.  Hume prohibited using the land for saloons or the sale of liquor.

If things worked out, Hume intended to divide and distribute another 15,000 acres in the same manner.

Hume was swamped with applications. He died a few months later of pneumonia, ending his grand settlement scheme before it started.

Sources: Dodds, Gordon B. The Salmon King of Oregon. The University of North Carolina Press, 1959, pp. 65-69; "Back to the Soil." Wedderburn Radium, 19 Mar. 1908, p. 1.

Laurel earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Humboldt State. Her research efforts as a volunteer for the Curry Historical Society produced numerous newsletter articles and exhibits and earned her a reputation as a seasoned local history buff. Laurel is the author of "Renderings from the Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery", a 50-page booklet containing a walking tour and snippets about the lives and times of folks buried there. She is also a contributing writer to Oregon Coast Magazine.